Suffolk spared from twisters’ fury

Published 9:58 pm Monday, April 18, 2011

Suffolk was remarkably spared in an outbreak of tornados that ripped through the area over the weekend.

Though twisters touched down all around the city —hitting areas in Windsor and North Carolina especially hard — the storm simply did not produce any tornados over Suffolk, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist.

“The storm that went over this area was basically the same storm that produced a tornado over Raleigh, (N.C.),” said meteorologist Mike Rusnak. “It went through cycles. When it was over [Suffolk], it did not produce any tornadic activity.”

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Though at different times on Saturday evening most of Suffolk was under a tornado warning — meaning a tornado could have developed at a moment’s notice — the city remained in the eye of the storm this time, Rusnak said.
“It was that type of a day where storms were developing and surviving, but they were just not producing” in certain areas, he said.

That was a special relief to Suffolk residents who still recall the powerful tornado that swept through the city nearly three years ago, damaging or destroying hundreds of homes and businesses in the Pruden Boulevard, Elephant’s Fork, Burnett’s Mill, Hillpoint and Driver areas.

The deadly tornado outbreak that ended on Saturday spanned 15 states during a three-day period, leading to a total of 267 tornado reports, according to About 45 people have been confirmed dead from the storm so far, and that number could rise as investigations continue. Close to two dozen were killed in North Carolina alone.

It’s being called one of the largest and deadliest tornado outbreaks in history.

Though it was spared any twisters, Suffolk still saw some effects from strong winds. City spokeswoman Debbie George said the city received reports of trees and power lines down, but crews quickly took care of those situations.

“We did not receive any reports of any structural damage,” she said.

Throughout Saturday, about 8,500 Dominion Virginia Power customers were without power in the area that includes Suffolk, said Daisy Pridgen, a spokeswoman for the power company.